How to get from Reykjavik to Akureyri
Wondering how to get from Reykjavik to Akureyri to check off all of your Iceland bucket list items? You are at the right spot. In this blog post, we will share all the ways to travel from Reykjavik to Akureyri – flights, buses, self-drive, tours, and other tips.
How to get from Reykjavik to Akureyri: Flights, bus, drive & tours
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Before we go over all the options, let’s introduce you to both Reykjavik and Akureyri and how you can use either city as a base to explore more of Iceland.
Where are Reykjavik and Akureyri located?
So, Reykjavik is the capital city and the largest settlement in Iceland. It is home to some of the most stunning natural wonders in the world.
Its location in the southwestern part of Iceland makes it an excellent base to explore waterfalls on the south coast like Skogafoss, Vik, and of course the geysers and tectonic plates of Thingvellir National Park.
Reykjavik provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature including black sand beaches, volcanoes, and iconic geothermal spas like the Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, etc.
All of the above are accessible from Reykjavik, plus you will find ample accommodation options in the capital city (hostels, lodges, 4-star hotels, and beyond!)
Reykjavik’s vibrant culture is one of its greatest charms. The city offers an array of cultural attractions such as galleries, museums, and art installations that will give you an insight into Icelandic history and culture.
And when night falls, Reykjavik comes alive with live music venues, bars, and restaurants that stay open late into the night. The buzzing atmosphere makes it easy to meet locals and experience the city like a local!
On the other hand, Akureyri is the second-largest urban settlement in Iceland. It is located in the northernmost region of the country.
It’s known for its stunning views of the Eyjafjörður Fjord, and a charming city centre sprinkled with hearts!
Akureyri is walkable, and the city centre is full of shops, restaurants, cafes, and galleries. As compared to Reykjavik, Akureyri is compact and it has limited accommodation options.
But Akureyri is a great base to explore the offbeat in northern Iceland. There are countless outdoor activities that you can enjoy while visiting this stunning destination such as embarking on the Diamond Circle route – chasing Godafoss and lava fields in and around Lake Myvatn.
You can also soak in the waters of Myvatn Nature Baths, known as the Blue Lagoon of the north!
And the unique pseudocraters and the folklore of the Yule lads can be discovered near Akureyri.
If adventure sports are more your thing, then head out of town for some exciting activities such as horseback riding, hikes, or even skiing in the winter.
You can chase the Northern Lights in Akureyri up until April.
You can also take advantage of the abundance of wildlife by venturing on day trips to see whales – all year round and puffins!
Note: To get to Iceland from the United States or Canada, you have to touch down at Keflavik airport. This is the hub of IcelandAir and this is where you can opt for airport transfers or pick-up car rental for your Icelandic road trip.
Keflavik airport is closest to Reykjavik, and it is 45 minute’s drive away. Here is a detailed guide to get from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik.
Flights from Reykjavik to Akureyri
Exploring Iceland’s North with Reykjavik to Akureyri Flights
- Pros: Only a 45 minute flight, no need for car rental, fast way to get there
- Cons: Limited luggage, maybe costs (it was around 200+ USD return per person)
When it comes to traveling in Iceland, there are many options available; however, depending on where you are going, flying could be your best bet.
Reykjavik to Akureyri flights take approximately 45 minutes and provide travelers with some spectacular views along the way.
This makes it much more convenient than driving or taking a bus as those can take up to seven hours one way!
Plus, if you’re only spending a few days in the area and want to maximize your time exploring, then taking a plane is definitely worth considering.
Fly from: To fly from Reykjavik to Akureyri, you will have to get to Reykjavik City Airport (not Keflavik airport).
Flights are operated by Air Iceland connect via IcelandAir (their parent company).
If you are staying at the Reykjavik city centre, it will take you merely a 5-minute cab ride to get to the airport.
The airport is small, but they do have a spacious parking lot.
Inside the Reykjavik airport, you will find IcelandAir staff who will provide boarding passes, assist passengers, etc.
There are no security checks for you or your luggage. As long as you are at the airport 30 minutes before take-off – you are good.
There is a small cafeteria at the airport, and you can also call taxis and book tours if you need one.
Arrive: You will arrive at the Akureyri airport, which is about a 5-minute cab ride away from the city centre. This airport is also very small, and there is no security when you take off (back to Reykjavik).
Keep in mind, the aircraft is also small – a 10-15 seater, but it surely welcomes you to great views over the cities of Reykjavik and Akureyri.
Sightseeing: If you are not renting a car in Akureyri, here are some day tours that you can do.
I took day tours and it worked out very well. It also gave me ample time to hang out and explore Akureyri.
TOURS IN AKUREYRI
Read: One day in Akureyri itinerary | Things to do in Akureyri Iceland
Reykjavik to Akureyri Guided Tour
3 day tour starting and ending in Reykjavik
- Pros: No need for car rental, road-tripping from Reykjavik to Akureyri with a guide
- Cons: Availability of the tour when you travel
A guided tour of Reykjavík to Akureyri is an experience you won’t soon forget.
You get to explore the incredible Icelandic countryside and take in the breathtaking views with an experienced guide.
You won’t be driving, worrying about parking, or other hassles.
As compared to a flight, you will check off gems on the Icelandic Ring road. The benefit of this tour is that you get a 2-night stay in a 3-star hotel, and also explore natural sites along the way.
Day 1: The Reykjavik to Akureyri Scenic Drive
The first part of your journey will be a scenic drive from Reykjavík to Akureyri. This drive passes through some of Iceland’s most stunning landscapes, from mountains and glaciers to deep fjords and lava fields.
Along the way, you will get to stop at various points of interest such as the Borgarfjörður and Langjökull, the second-largest glacier in Iceland.
You will also experience glaciers up close and personal with a tour of the man-made ice tunnel.
You will also stop at the beautiful waterfalls – Hraunfossar and Barnafoss in west Iceland.
Stay overnight in Akureyri.
Day 2: Akureyri to Mývatn day trip
On a guided tour, you will visit the following spots on day 2 of the North Iceland itinerary,
- Goðafoss, this majestic waterfall is also called the “waterfall of gods”, referring to how people once believed that this was where their old gods were thrown into the waterfall after being replaced by Christianity as a belief system. It was formed during the Viking Age when Icelandic law was adopted and Christianity became the main religion in the country
- Lake Mývatn area, filled with lava fields, flora and fauna, and pseudo craters
- Dimmuborgir or Dark Fortress is where you will find Yule Lads, and go on hikes
- Námaskarð geothermal area to see hot springs, boiling mud pools, mud pots, and fumaroles
- Mývatn Nature Baths, known as the Blue Lagoon of the north is perfect to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds the spa
Day 3: Akureyri to Reykjavik via the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
On the final day, you will make a return trip to Reykjavik with the following sightseeing stops.
- Djupalonssandur is a sandy beach and bay on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland, just above Snæfellsjökull. It was once home to 60 fishing boats and an active town but is now unpopulated
- From here, you will visit the lively fishing village of Arnarstapi, and admire the huge sculpture of Bárður Snaefellsnes, home to Icelandic sagas and history
- The next stop is the Saxhóll Crater. It is a 100-meter-high volcanic crater, and to get to the top you will be taking the ‘Stairway to Heaven’
- The final stop is Kirkjufell, which means ‘church mountain’, and it is the poster boy of Icelandic landscapes!
You can check out this tour here
Booking the tour: This tour requires a certain number of travelers to sign up prior to its finalization.
You can use this link to book it on Tourradar and once you reserve a spot you will hear back from the tour company.
If the tour cannot be launched due to low season, or if you are a single traveler then you may consider flying to Akureyri and doing these standalone tours instead (without renting a car).
- North Iceland tour of Lake Myvatn and Nature Baths (from Akureyri – this tour replaces day 2 of the suggested tour above)
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Kirkjufell Day Trip (from Reykjavík – this tour replaces day 3 of the suggested tour above)
Reykjavik to Akureyri Bus
Guide to taking a bus from Reykjavik to Akureyri
- Pros: It is a cheaper option
- Cons: Almost a full day of travel (6.50 to 7 hours, one way), doesn’t operate all year round
It is possible to take a bus from Reykjavík all the way up north to the city of Akureyri. The route takes place along the main road nr 1 and surrounding towns in the north and east of Iceland.
The buses run on two different schedules – one for winter and another for summer months, and you can find information on the Strætó website.
Keep in mind that it will make for a long day and no sightseeing stops in between, but it is a cheaper option.
Once you are in Akureyri you can book tours for exploring (if not renting a car).
Booking your tickets: The first step for booking your tickets is determining when you want to travel. You can either book your tickets in advance or purchase them on the day of travel.
Additionally, it is always recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes early so that everything runs smoothly.
It is important to note that buses may not operate in the off-season.
Departing and arriving in Reykjavík: Buses depart from Reykjavík at the Mjódd bus terminal and arrive at the Hof Cultural Center by Strandgata 12 (the bus stop is marked) in Akureyri town.
This is the spot where you will ride the bus to get back to Reykjavik.
Read: Iceland travel tips
Reykjavik to Akureyri Drive
You can drive from Reykjavik to Akureyri quite easily, and it would take about 4.50 to 5 hours in normal traffic (regular road conditions).
The road distance is 837.3 km (520.39 miles).
- Pros: Flexibility, convenience, faster than a bus ride
- Cons: Can be pricey depending on the road trip duration and number of travelers involved
You can pick up a car rental from the Keflavik airport, and with a stop in Reykjavik head to Akureyri.
Along the way, you can stop at the following attractions,
- Start with Reykjavik: Check off the tallest church in Iceland – Hallgrímskirkja, museums, and free sites such as Sun Voyager
- Soak in the Sky Lagoon, located 15 minutes from Reykjavik
- Gullfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Europe and is truly an amazing sight to behold. The waterfall cascades down into two large drops that are 33 meters high each, creating a breathtaking view. Gullfoss is part of the Golden Circle route which also includes Geysir and Thingvellir National Park
- Kerid crater lake is another great stop on your journey from Reykjavík to Akureyri. The crater was formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago and today it is filled with crystal-clear water
- Snaefellsjokull National Park in west Iceland is an other-worldly paradise unlike any other. Sprawling from the shoreline to 1446 metres tall, the park contains the majestic and awe-inspiring glacier sitting atop a 700,000-year-old stratovolcano. Visit Kirkjufell mountain and Ytri Tunga beach (seal beach) while you are there
From the Snaefellsjokull head to Icelandic Seal Center in Hvammstangi, and later to Bergárfoss (waterfall).
If you do not wish to divert from the Ring road, you can continue towards Akureyri and explore this charming town – go whale watching, and more.
In and around Akureyri, you must explore the Mývatn Region (lava formations and volcanic craters) and waterfalls on the Diamond Circle route – Godafoss and Detifoss (a short drive east from Akureyri).
Driving from Reykjavík to Akureyri offers travelers plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure along the way!
What You Can Do in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is an amazing destination for travelers looking for a unique and breathtaking experience.
Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, is a must-visit when in Reykjavik. It’s an impressive sight, and visitors can also use the lift to get a panoramic view of the city for a token fee of 1 000 ISK.
Also worth exploring is Reykjavik City Hall located alongside the Tjörnin pond. Inside, tourists can view the beautiful mural by Icelandic artist Hálfdan Pétursson which depicts Iceland’s history and culture.
To round off your trip to Reykjavik, take a stroll to the Sun Voyager – a dreamboat-like sculpture located on the waterfront that symbolizes hope and progress.
For those who prefer nightlife activities, there are lots of bars and clubs located downtown which often feature live music or DJs playing all sorts of genres from jazz to pop punk rock.
You can also find trendy cafes serving delicious coffee drinks that you can enjoy while people are watching on one of the many outdoor patios!
What You Can Do in Akureyri
Akureyri is known as the “capital of the north” and offers visitors stunning landscapes that must be seen in person to truly appreciate.
For nature lovers, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and sightseeing throughout Akureyri and its surroundings.
There are also several local attractions such as the Botanical Garden or Hof Cultural Center which have unique exhibits that provide insight into Icelandic culture and history.
Of course, no visit would be complete without checking out some of the local restaurants – make sure to try some traditional Icelandic dishes!
Lastly, don’t forget about whale watching – it’s a popular activity off Akureyri’s coast due to the large population found here almost all year round!
Final words: How to travel from Reykjavik to Akureyri
Iceland’s landscapes are truly unlike any other, with some spots being extremely barren and others majestically lush.
The entire trip from Reykjavik to Akureyri is 837 kilometers in length, but it’s well worth the effort – by the time you reach your destination, you’ll have many stories to tell!
During my solo trip, I did fly to Akureyri and then used small group tours to explore Iceland.
If you’re looking for an exciting way to travel from Reykjavik to Akureyri and have a group to enjoy the ride with, then consider taking a drive!
As I traveled in the offseason, I got lucky with tours and experienced the natural attractions like I was on a mini road trip (minus me driving)!
Taking the Ring Road will bring you on an unforgettable journey through Iceland’s remarkable landscapes while giving you plenty of chances to stop at beautiful vistas and incredible sights along the way.
So which mode of transportation will you opt for?
Read more posts from our Iceland travel guide
- Iceland itinerary: 3 days in Iceland | 5 days in Iceland | 8 days in Iceland | 10 days in Iceland
- Iceland tours: Iceland winter tours | Guided tours of Iceland
- Seasonal guides: Iceland in April | Iceland in May | Iceland in October